The guy has a long dagger!
Mukai Koray (1651 - 1704). Per. V. Markova
Well, now it's finally time to talk about the so-called ninja - Japanese spies and assassins, people of a truly unusual fate. Is that only about the Knights Templar there are so many all kinds of rumors, outright inventions, legends and myths, as if people have nothing to do but write all kinds of horror films about them. In addition, there is probably no person who has not heard of these very ninjas. In Japanese (and not only Japanese!) Movies, they are found almost at every turn, a "ninja sword" can be bought over the Internet, but does everyone know that 80 percent of the information about them is purely secondary! The English historian Stephen Turnbull, who himself wrote many books about the military affairs of Japan in ancient times, drew attention to this. He noted that the word ninja and the synonymous word shinobi are quite common in Japanese historical chronicles. Mitsuo Kure uses the words scouts, spies, ninja. Moreover, the name "ninja" was born at the beginning of the twentieth century. Prior to that, in different regions of Japan, these people were called differently: ukami, dakko, kurohabaki, kyodan, nokizaru. By the XNUMXth century, shinobi-no-mono had become a commonly used name, translated into Russian - "the one who sneaks." It is believed that many political assassinations were carried out by ninjas. That's just that and all, the information is at the level of "one grandmother said", because more specific information about them is absent and why, in general, if you think about it, it's clear.
Ninja Museum in Iga.
In the noble warriors, which were (or should have been) Japanese samurai, the insidious blows on the sly were not approved, although they were resorted to very often. But how to combine the nobility in thoughts and affairs with the appeal to the people of the lower class (and the ninja, of course, did not belong to the samurai), who have to do for you such a dirty job, which you, however, could not do? But referring to the ninja, samurai made himself dependent on them, which was hardly to his taste. So it is not surprising that samurai preferred about ninjas not to spread particularly, and thus, in turn, the loud glory was not at all necessary. But they were still in Japan? Yes - they were, but not quite as many novelists depict them, as well as our modern cinema!
Exhibits showing weapon ninja.
Usually, ancient sources report that it was then and then that ... creeped into the right place "a very clever shinobi who set fire to the temple", or, on the contrary, that a loser ninja hacked to death in such and such a castle, but that is all! There is, however, a very detailed description of the murder in the style of ninja, only an 13-year-old boy who wanted to avenge his father committed him. Since he was to be killed by a novice monk who lived in the same monastery as himself, this boy named Kumavaka first pretended to be sick, and then, waiting for the night with wind and rain, set about his plan.
Naturally, the guards slept that night. The victim, a certain Homma Saburo, changed the bedroom that night, but the boy found him anyway, but for some reason he didn’t have a knife or a dagger. Then he decided to use Saburo's sword, but decided that if he pulled him out of the scabbard, then the brilliance of his blade, on which the light of a lamp in the room could fall, could wake him up. That is, it says that in Japan, many have slept in the light. But he noticed a lot of moths stuck around the sliding shoji doors outside and bursting into the light. He opened the shoji, and many insects immediately flew into the room, darkening its light. After that, Kumavaka carefully pulled the sword out of its scabbard, finished off the hated Saburo, and again, in ninja style, ran away. Since the moat was too wide and deep for him, the teenager climbed onto a bamboo growing on its edge, and began to climb the trunk, which caused him to bend under his weight, and he found himself on the opposite side of the moat! However, it should be emphasized that he didn’t learn such tricks anywhere anywhere, just as he didn’t study specifically for ninjas and those samurai warriors whom their warlords sent to scout the enemy during the war.
On the other hand, each Japanese feudal lord had, most likely, special people whose goal was to create special spy nets in the principalities of the enemy, so that their master would be aware of the plans of the local princes. They organized the arsons, abducted and killed the people they needed, sowed false rumors, threw compromising documents - that is, did everything to knock down, deceive the enemy and sow discord in his camp. Naturally, these were people “outside of society”, since to recognize their existence would mean violating all written and unwritten laws, and this is why it turned out that they turned into a very insular and mysterious caste, the roots of which again lead to Ancient China!
And it so happened that there were about a lot of Buddhist monks wandering around the country and living in alms around the 6th century. The local authorities fought a serious struggle with them, accusing them of perverting the Buddhist teachings and, of course, of witchcraft. The monks, in their struggle with their oppressors, went so far that they joined rebel detachments or even robber gangs, where they acted like the monk Tuku from the novel by Walter Scott Ivanhoe. Gradually, they developed their own system of survival in extreme conditions, which included the ability to disguise and reincarnate, the techniques of medical care, the preparation of medicinal drugs, learned hypnosis and the technique of entering a trance, and much more, which gave them a chance to survive among the dangers that await them everywhere .
One way to escape was to move to Japan, but this story repeated there. The peasants, seeing the poor people who taught them good, began to consider these vagabonds and hermits the only real followers of the Buddha, while the local bonzes shiny from fat were not respected at all. Their income from this fell, and the government fell upon the stray monks with repressions, from which they hastened to hide in the mountains. And so there appeared entire clans of militant monks ("soi"). And in them, in addition to all other martial arts, ninjutsu (the "art of stealth") was cultivated, going beyond what the samurai were able to do and ... that’s how the ninja were born! That is, at first it was various martial arts schools, and then those people who studied in them found a "lesson to their taste"! Moreover, if we summarize the statements of Japanese ninjutsu masters, we can conclude that this is just one of the ways of a person’s spiritual and physical development in order to acquire the ability to control his body and ... other people in order to ensure survival for himself, his family, tribe and tribe .
That is, the original ninjutsu schools did not have anything in common with military organizations, neither by the methods of training their adherents, nor by their own philosophy. Significant changes in this occurred in 1460 - 1600, when there were wars in Japan, and there was a great demand for people of similar specialties, and there were about 70 ninja clans in the whole country at that time. The most famous were the clans of the county of Koga and the province of Iga. Koga County was, so to speak, ruled by a coalition of clans of the “53 family of Koga”, but Iga Province was divided immediately between three large clans: Momoti in the south, Hattori in the center and Fujibayashi in the north. In the last two districts such important ninja schools as Koga-ryu and Iga-ryu were formed. The third major center of ninjutsu was Kii province. Well, the “warriors of the night” tasks were performed by the most varied and far from always they were precisely contract killings. For example, the ninjas made their way into the villages that other daimyo owned and recounted the number of houses, in order to then understand how many people princes could call upon in the event of war. It's funny that before counting houses on the street, they hid two handfuls of pebbles in the left and right sleeves, and passing near the house, they dropped these pebbles. After that, it remained only to count how many stones the ninja had left, and the task was completed, since the shortage corresponded to the number of houses. So the ninjas were also able to count, and considered not bad!
But at the same time ninja never served anyone, they did their work for money. That is, the monk-warriors who followed this path were outside the feudal system of Japan, although they themselves had a strict hierarchy. The highest leader of the organization was jenin. His closest assistants were called Tyunins. Then followed the Genin fighters. Over time, not only their own, but also newcomers, “from the side” and, above all, the ronin, “samurai who lost their master,” began to fall into the ranks of genin and even tyunin. Women - and they became ninjas. In this case, they were called kunoichi, and they acted, relying not so much on force as on their female charms.
Over time, they also developed their own philosophy (in no way inferior in content to the philosophy of ordinary, “not militant” monastic schools) and their own, specific teaching methods. For example, it was believed that one should win not the enemy, but the situation. Ninjutsu masters did not view the fight with the enemy as an end in itself, except in the most extreme circumstances. The enemy should have been eliminated if the interests of the cause demanded it, and when he interfered with the execution of the plans, but no one should have killed just like that. After all, a competent operation should not have left any compromising traces, except when such traces were specially emphasized to direct the enemies on a false trail. The rival was usually perceived as an obstacle, but not an object of influence. To achieve victory meant to fulfill the task entrusted to you, and not to finish off the living obstacle in your way.
Everything that ninjas did was strictly rational. Why, for example, waste your energy on a fight with an adversary if you can blind him and slip away from him unnoticed? Why sneak up to the sentry on the rustling grass of the autumn, risking to be heard, if it can be fired at with a poisonous needle from a wind tube? Why join a group fight when you can send the pursuers on the wrong track? Yes, the ninjas used a fairly wide arsenal of various combat weapons. But they also made extensive use of any objects at hand. And it is also very logical: after all, strangulation with the help of a stick is much more effective than strangulation with his hands, and striking with a stone is more efficient than fighting with an empty fist.
However, medieval Japan was a police state in the worst sense of the word. On every road, at every town and village outpost there were patrols of samurai. If the traveler seemed suspicious, a thorough search was guaranteed to him. That is why the ninjas had to act in secret, and in no way stand out among the people around them, and avoid the slightest collisions with them. That is why they had the minimum equipment with them. A rope of rope (“in the household and a rope will fit!”) Or a chain, a towel, wiping sweat, a staff, a small peasant's knife, a sickle, some food and medicine, a flint for making fire, that's all that the same ninja could afford on the roads of Japan. Having all this, he could not be afraid of checking, well, and already at the destination, he made the tools he needed from improvised means, and he could always take the weapon away from the enemy. After completing the assignment, he either hid his “equipment” or destroyed it altogether and became again a harmless traveler, following his needs!
That is why various staffs were very important for the ninja, and not swords and daggers at all. True, there is confusion in their size. So in order to avoid it, let us take as a basis the average height of a Japanese man at the beginning of the 17th century, which was about 150, see. Today, the Japanese have become much higher due to food rich in animal proteins, but at that time it was not at all. The length of the staff did not exceed human height (plus the height of wooden sandals - “geta”), but most often corresponded to the distance from the ground to the shoulder. That is, it fluctuated within 140-160, see. But, besides a wooden pole, this could also be a Buddhist monk's staff, and then its effectiveness as a weapon usually increased due to the metal parts on it. Often used at the same time and two sickle: “o-gama”, a sickle with a long handle (up to 120 cm) was used to parry and deflect enemy strikes, and a small sickle, “nat-gama” (15-30 blade, 20-knob 45 see.) Struck the enemy.
Kusarikama is a sickle with a chain, used both by samurai and ninja.
Very "advanced" (as is customary today to say) were ninjas and in terms of the use of various novelties in the field of weapons. So, they very actively used firearms - in particular, they tried to shoot Oda Nabunaga with muskets, and also used several types of explosive shells. Among them were “bombs” in a soft, cloth shell filled with gunpowder and human excrement, the explosions of which sowed panic and distracted attention, and real “grenades” in the form of metal balls, with gunpowder and musket bullets inside. They were set on fire with a wick soaked in saltpeter, and their explosion inside the room could lead to serious consequences, be it destruction, but also injury and death. Metal spikes scattered in the grass and in the dark corridors, greased with manure or poison, throwing arrows blown out of the air tubes — in a word, various devices that effectively and quickly killed their neighbor were used.
Furi-dzue or tigiriki - “swing cane." In practice, this large, traveling crucible with a stick in the shape of a monk's staff, furi-dzue, was similar to a metal or bamboo stick about 1 meter in length, 50 cm, with a chain with a sinker brush hidden inside. This is a great combination weapon that can be used to stab and slash.
The ninja hand-to-hand fight consisted of punches and kicks to the most vulnerable parts of the body, as well as various evasions from the enemy's seizures, falling, somersaults with shoals and even jumping. And everything, whatever the ninja did, was a surprise for the enemy!
It's funny, but the black ninja attire, so beloved by filmmakers, does not belong to them, although it is described in the novels and we see this clothing in the movies. "At night, all cats are sulfur" - people noticed in ancient times. Therefore, the ninja nightwear was ashen, yellowish brown or dark gray colors and shades, as the black suit was visible in the dark against the background of lighter objects. At the same time, it had baggy outlines distorting the outlines of the figure. Well, and during the day the ninja put on the clothes of peasants, artisans, monks, which allowed them to merge with the crowd.
Ninja - drawing of the famous Hokusai.
Yes, but where did the black suit attributed to the ninja come from? And this is a robe of puppeteers in the Japanese puppet theater bunraku. The puppeteer, dressed in all black, was on the stage during the performance, and the audience "did not see" him. And when in the play of another theater - the kabuki wanted to show the murder that the ninja allegedly committed, the killer was dressed in this black costume of the puppeteer - which emphasized that no one had seen him!
What else was included in ninja equipment was six very important items (rokugu), although he did not always have them all with him. These are amigas (woven from straw hat), kaginava ("cat"), sekikhitsu (slate for writing) or yaduate (ink with a brush case), yakuhin (small bag with medicines), tsukedake or utidake (ember container), and sandzaku-tenugui (towel), because in Japan the climate is sultry and humid.
The most interesting thing is that the development of the ninja class went almost in parallel with the development of the samurai class, although in Japanese culture they were always opposed to each other and here is why. If a samurai considered immoral to kill from an ambush, then for him it was a ninja. If a samurai considered it indecent for him to secretly enter the enemy's house, he again hired a ninja for this. Well, in the end it turned out that white, as it should be, remained white, and black - black. The honor of the samurai remained unspotted, and the enemy lay on the tatami with a blade in his chest. That is, they could not do without each other, because the samurai provided the ninja with money, but it would be absolutely impossible for the samurai to admit their dependence on the ninja.
The author thanks the company "Antiques Japan" (Antikvariat-Japan.ru) for the information provided and photos